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The Funk Brothers


The Funk Brothers

January 24, 2004 @ The Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA

The stage was almost as packed as the hall as Motown revival mastermind Alan “Dr. Licks” Slutsky brought his legendary “backing band” back to his alma mater. Through interesting tales of the road, tributes to fallen Brothers James Jamerson, Pistol Allen, Eddie Brown, Robert White, Earl van Dyke, Johnny Griffith and Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin and Eddie "Bongo" Brown, and open invitations for fans to take up what little room was left on the bandstand, the legendary session team that made Motown what it was kept the audience engaged from the opening note of “I’ll Be There” to their riddling encore of “Shotgun.” Though featured vocalist Peabo Bryson delivered a soulful “Ma Cherie Amour” and deeply felt “What’s Going On,” among other classic hits, the band’s touring singers held up their ends quite well. When not looking for love among the ladies in the audience, TSOP vocalist John Howard kept the show going with an aerobic Gospel swing through Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and a fall down rendition of “Pride and Joy.” Cousin Carla Benson brought sass and soul to the stage, helping the crowd thaw with a smoking “Heatwave” and leading a Supreme-ly choreographed but busy version of “Stop in the Name of Love.” Rounding out the vocal group was the young and agile Michael Clark, who danced like Michael Jackson and sounded very much like Smokey Robinson. With all this vocal power, it was sometimes hard to hear the men who had finally gotten their long-deserved top billing. Bass master Bob Babbit and beat keeper Uriel Jones were often relegated to the back line, while elder keyboardist Joe Hunter and vibe setter and tambourine man Jack Ashford were hard to pick out even when they stood front and center. And with the guitar triple-threat of Slutsky and founding Brothers Eddie Willis and Joe Messina, it was hard to tell who was swinging their ax the hardest at any given time. Even so, the overall sound was pure magic - a fitting tribute to the men who helped America find its soul and who continue to keep the beat nearly 40 years on.

- Matthew S. Robinson
c. 2004, M. S. Robinson, ARR


©2003-2005 Boston Beats





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